In the last study, Paul was granted permission to stay in Corinth. The Jews had accused him of teaching against their own law, but the Pro Consul was not influenced by the Jews. Galieo didn’t care about their law, said, “You take care of it yourself.” So, this gave a kind of precedent for Christianity to be accepted and at least tolerated.
v. 18 – He stayed for some time, then left with Priscilla, Aquila – until 52A.D. spring, when it was safe to sail.
Athens had been a pretty big disappointment, only a few converts.
Corinth, initially discouraged, Paul had a vision where God said, “Carry on” and many were saved there (in Sin City). God was patient, long-suffering, used Paul to correct the Corinthians.
Also in Corinth, most converts were from the lower classes. 1 Cor. 1:26 – “Not many of you were wise, influential, of noble birth” But God blessed the city with many converts.
Now, he was off – ultimately to Jerusalem, then Antioch. But on his way, he stopped over in Ephesus – Asia Minor.
Church in Cenchrea had grown.
2 Cor. Paul writes to Achaea? southern Greece.
Romans 16:1 – Paul mentions Phoebe as being a member of the Cenchrean church – helpful to him (she was a deaconess).
In Cenchrea, he made a vow and cut his hair.
Paul continued to be faithful to his Jewish traditions – taking a vow would underscore this. Who knows what kind of vow?
He was still clearly a Jew, unashamed and unopposed to keeping Jewish traditions, though a Christian, and he didn’t impose Jewish tradition upon Gentiles.
In Ephesus, he preached the gospel.
Here, they seemed interested in his teaching, wanted him to stay longer, but Paul declined. Seems a bit strange, he usually took advantage of every opportunity to share the gospel. His journey must have been important, and he gave a promise to return, which he did – and ministered there later for 2 years.
Priscilla and Aquila later returned to Rome after the death of Claudius the Emperor.
However, when Paul left, they stayed in Ephesus.
From here, Luke’s account is very compressed. Summarizes many events – sea voyage, journey south, etc in a few sentences.
Paul’s destination was Antioch, and from there he went on a journey to the other churches.
Luke mentions the stop to Jerusalem (out of his way 300 miles north), to imply that Paul was still loyal to the apostolic church and his Jewish heritage. This is important because later, people would accuse him of leaving his Jewish faith and encouraging others to do so.
Paul likely remained in Antioch for quite some time, then v. 23 he traveled place to place on a pastoral journey, strengthening the disciples. He likely revisited the towns from earlier Acts where he preached the gospel. He’d been there one proclaiming the gospel, a second time appointing elders, and now a third time.
Now, Apollos – a Jew, born in Egypt, came to Ephesus. He knew the Scriptures thoroughly, and destroyed the Jews in debate.
He became one of Paul’s trusted brothers in the faith, a great apologist (defender of the faith).
Later, some Christians would claim “I’m of Apollos” and “I’m of Paul” but Paul would say, “neither is anything, but God gives the increase” and “Paul and Apollos are one – in mind, unity, and each will receive his own reward in his work.”
1 Cor 6:12 – “Now concerning Apollos, I strongly urged him to come, but he was unwilling, but he will come when he has a convenient time.”
Paul has no authority over him, respects him.
Titus 3:13 “Send Zemas and Apollos with haste that they lack nothing.”
Luke has a good reason for including this story of Apollos. Some Corinthians were adopting a partisan spirit (I’m Apollos, I’m Paul), but that was wrong.
Apollos knew well of Jesus and the prophecies in the Scriptures of him, but didn’t know of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, only John’s.
The Jewish leaders had been responsible for the death of their Messiah that had been promised for thousands of years. Peter, with the Holy Spirit, (Acts 2?) preached, and the men were convicted – Peter said “He is risen!” “What shall we do?” they asked, “Repent! and be baptized in the name of Christ and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!” And thousands (2,000?) were added to their number that day.
So, it’s a bit strange that Apollos hadn’t heard of this. It may be that he had the Holy Spirit already since he taught of Jesus quite accurately. Sometimes, with the laying on of hands, or through preaching, some received the HS. There is a method, but also exceptions.
Apollos was humble enough to receive further instruction from Aquila and Priscilla. We thank God that he was humble enough to receive that.
Neil (commentator) “Luke’s vague and brief account doesn’t teach us much of Apollos. Perhaps he was a member of a John the Baptist sect (chapter 19))”
Apollos wanted to go on to Achaea. He met with unconverted Jews and proving that Jesus was the Christ. He went back to some places that Paul had been and was highly regarded by the churches there – great public speaker.
Apollos had become another important member of the team.
Also, Paul had not abandoned his missionary work for the Jews.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul came to Ephesus – rich in history. Paul had received a favorable response earlier, and promised to return – he has. Acts 18:19-21 (favorable acceptance) – but at that time, he carried on along his journey.
Now, the events of Ephesus. Curious story – Paul met some of John’s disciples, slightly defective in their knowledge of the Way of Life (Christianity). Eph 1:13 “In Him (Christ), you also trusted after you heard the Word of Truth, the Gospel, and you trusted and believed and were sealed with the Holy Spirit.”
These disciples had not heard of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps “disciples” means “of John”. They were certainly Jews, and hadn’t heard of the Holy Spirit – it was a little puzzling.
Matt 3:11 – John, “I baptize with water, unto repentance, but he who comes after me will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Paul “Which have you received?” They “John’s”
Paul “You should receive the HS baptism.”
These may have been hardcore followers of John the Baptist.
Josephus – historian, writes that JB was highly praised and loved and influential to the Jewish people.
John was arrested in Matthew because he preached against Herod’s second marriage. He wanted to kill him, but was afraid of the crowds who loved him.
Influence of John – in the gospel of John – John always makes sure to keep the ministry of JB inferior to Jesus’ ministry – to be sure that those who read it would be clear – he is NOT the Messiah, NOT Elijah, NOT the Prophet (Moses). John says “NO, to all.” “Who are you then, what about you?” “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.”
John _:21-31 JB “Behold the Lamb of God, who was before me, yet after me. I did not know him, but that he would be revealed to Israel, so, I’ve baptized with water.” HS comes down in a dove.
“Now, I’ve seen and testify that THIS is the son of God.”
Luke was careful to define JB’s ministry.
This is the fifth time in Acts that JB’s role has been clarified.
Chp 1:5 “Wait for the promise of the Father, John baptized with water, you with the HS.”
Chp 11:16 Peter “As I spoke (to Cornelius), the HS fell upon them as upon us, who am I to deny them baptism?” Chp 13:25 Paul “As John finished, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? Not HE, but the one who comes after me, I’m not fit to untie his sandals.’”
Chp 18:25 Apollos “This man had been instructed in the ways of the Lord, though he knew ONLY the baptism of John.”
Chp 19:4 “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one who came after him.”
JB’s ministry may have grown opposite the Christian one – even in opposition to it perhaps. It was a sect.
Luke includes this to show that the Church believes in Jesus and follows Him, not John.
JB was a faithful servant who POINTED to the true King, Jesus.
Again here, the HS is given as Jesus is proclaimed Lord and they believe in Him.
The main things are explained.
1. Receiving the HS (born from above) – the MOST important thing we need to know.
Whitefield (great preacher) accused of saying “You must be born again.” WHY? Because “You must be born again!”